Today in North African history: the 1969 Libyan coup

The Arab world experienced quite a number of coups in the 1950s and 1960s. Syria went through three coups in 1949 alone—yes, OK, that isn’t the 1950s, but it’s close enough—and another in 1951. Egypt had a major one in 1952—perhaps you’ve heard about that one. Then Syria had another in 1954, Iraq had one in 1958, Syria had still another in 1961, and Yemen got into the game in 1962. We’re not done yet. Syria (yet again) and Iraq both experienced coups in 1963, Algeria in 1965, and Syria again in 1966. Rounding out the period, Libya experienced a coup on September 1, 1969, which is our subject today. Not only did it jump start Libya’s development into a modern nation-state—a process that admittedly may have reversed itself to some degree by the time you’re reading this—but it introduced the world to one of the most prominent Arab leaders of the second half of the 20th century.

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